23 April 2020
A number of organisations representing or concerned with communities who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have written to the Taoiseach appealing for a human rights impact assessment to be carried out by 5 May. The letter was signed by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), the Movement of Ayslum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Mental Health Reform, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, and Refugee and Migrant Solidarity Ireland (RAMSI).
Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Liam Herrick, said:
Human rights principles can and should inform the public health response to the pandemic. They can provide a blueprint for deciding which restrictions should be lifted first and how the gradual lifting of restrictions should take place.
As part of the impact assessment, the organisations want to see disaggregated statistics on infection and death rates according to nationality, ethnicity, disability, gender and age. The organisations also want to see statistics on infection and death rates in residential settings broken down further into care, detention and direct provision settings.
Enda Egan, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said
Recent developments have seen those residing in care homes and other residential institutions becoming increasingly exposed to the virus, highlighting the need for both a public health response and a rights-based response to support these groups through this difficult period.
The letter was copied to Minister for Health Simon Harris; the Departments of Justice and of Health; the Garda Commissioner and the Policing Authority; and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
As well as being concerned that COVID-19 is causing some groups of people to suffer more than others, the organisations are worried that the new emergency regulations will unfairly affect certain communities more than others. They called for disaggregated data on people who have been arrested, charged or detained under the Emergency Health Regulations or for related reasons. They also want to see information on where garda checkpoints have been established and whether gardaí have been deployed equally across the State.
The organisations emphasised that some restrictions on rights are clearly necessary during a pandemic, and that it might be necessary to extend some restrictions beyond 5 May. But they said that in order to make sure the public health response is in line with the State’s human rights obligations a human rights impact assessment must be carried out before any extension of the restrictions.
Find the letter at this link.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights campaigning organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign to secure human rights for everyone in Ireland.
For comment: Liam Herrick
For media queries: Sinéad Nolan: firstname.lastname@example.org 087 4157162